Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods returns to golf

Zach Johnson has played and seen Tiger Woods at his very best, and he wants this younger generation to "have a piece" of that Tiger.
ZJ wants young guys to see Tiger at his best
Zach Johnson has played and seen Tiger Woods at his very best, and he wants this younger generation to "have a piece" of that Tiger.
Rory McIlroy believes that Tiger Woods will “stun the world – again” this year after beginning his resurrection in London. McIlroy played with Woods in November and was amazed by the 14-time major winner’s display at the Bear’s Club, Jack Nicklaus’s Florida course near the players’ homes. At that stage, Woods had not played competitively since February when he pulled out of the Dubai Desert Classic. The 42-year-old then underwent a spinal fusion, a radical operation which led to predictions that his career was over. However, Woods returned at the Hero World Challenge two months ago, where he commendably finished in a tie for ninth in an 18-man field. McIlroy was not surprised by that, after what he had witnessed a few weeks beforehand when Woods had invited him for 18 holes. “I was on my way there worrying thinking, ‘what will I see?’, but it was incredible,” McIlroy told Telegraph Sport. “My dad [Gerry] also played with us and we both couldn’t believe it. I remember mouthing to Dad, ‘WTF?’. And on the drive home afterwards, we said: ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ Tiger was that good; playing every shot, not having to hold back. “Tiger told me how he’d fixed it and how it was a mini-miracle, considering how bad it had been. He travelled to London to see the ultimate consultant on these things, who told him the only guy who could fix this was in Texas. Tiger went through the procedure and now he’s back.” Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were paired together for the final round at the Masters in 2015 Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Image Like everyone McIlroy looked on in admiration as Woods relaunched his career in the Bahamas. “This is a different Tiger. He could stun the world – again,” said McIlroy with a rueful grin, mindful of losing the world No 1 tag to him in 2013 when Woods won five tournaments. But McIlroy seems more impressed this time around. “When he came back in 2013, all he did was hit a big cut and was getting himself around with his chipping and putting,” McIlroy said. “And, yeah, that is incredible in itself. But he’s got everything again now. You can talk about Jordan [Spieth] and JT [Justin Thomas] and all of them not seeing Tiger in his pomp, but I tell you what, I’ve never really seen Tiger at that level. He could be the story of the year. I hope he isn’t, I hope I am. But then if Tiger wins just one then he will be the story anyway.”
Exclusive Rory McIlroy interview: 'It's a different Tiger - he can stun the world once again'
Rory McIlroy believes that Tiger Woods will “stun the world – again” this year after beginning his resurrection in London. McIlroy played with Woods in November and was amazed by the 14-time major winner’s display at the Bear’s Club, Jack Nicklaus’s Florida course near the players’ homes. At that stage, Woods had not played competitively since February when he pulled out of the Dubai Desert Classic. The 42-year-old then underwent a spinal fusion, a radical operation which led to predictions that his career was over. However, Woods returned at the Hero World Challenge two months ago, where he commendably finished in a tie for ninth in an 18-man field. McIlroy was not surprised by that, after what he had witnessed a few weeks beforehand when Woods had invited him for 18 holes. “I was on my way there worrying thinking, ‘what will I see?’, but it was incredible,” McIlroy told Telegraph Sport. “My dad [Gerry] also played with us and we both couldn’t believe it. I remember mouthing to Dad, ‘WTF?’. And on the drive home afterwards, we said: ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ Tiger was that good; playing every shot, not having to hold back. “Tiger told me how he’d fixed it and how it was a mini-miracle, considering how bad it had been. He travelled to London to see the ultimate consultant on these things, who told him the only guy who could fix this was in Texas. Tiger went through the procedure and now he’s back.” Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were paired together for the final round at the Masters in 2015 Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Image Like everyone McIlroy looked on in admiration as Woods relaunched his career in the Bahamas. “This is a different Tiger. He could stun the world – again,” said McIlroy with a rueful grin, mindful of losing the world No 1 tag to him in 2013 when Woods won five tournaments. But McIlroy seems more impressed this time around. “When he came back in 2013, all he did was hit a big cut and was getting himself around with his chipping and putting,” McIlroy said. “And, yeah, that is incredible in itself. But he’s got everything again now. You can talk about Jordan [Spieth] and JT [Justin Thomas] and all of them not seeing Tiger in his pomp, but I tell you what, I’ve never really seen Tiger at that level. He could be the story of the year. I hope he isn’t, I hope I am. But then if Tiger wins just one then he will be the story anyway.”
Rory McIlroy believes that Tiger Woods will “stun the world – again” this year after beginning his resurrection in London. McIlroy played with Woods in November and was amazed by the 14-time major winner’s display at the Bear’s Club, Jack Nicklaus’s Florida course near the players’ homes. At that stage, Woods had not played competitively since February when he pulled out of the Dubai Desert Classic. The 42-year-old then underwent a spinal fusion, a radical operation which led to predictions that his career was over. However, Woods returned at the Hero World Challenge two months ago, where he commendably finished in a tie for ninth in an 18-man field. McIlroy was not surprised by that, after what he had witnessed a few weeks beforehand when Woods had invited him for 18 holes. “I was on my way there worrying thinking, ‘what will I see?’, but it was incredible,” McIlroy told Telegraph Sport. “My dad [Gerry] also played with us and we both couldn’t believe it. I remember mouthing to Dad, ‘WTF?’. And on the drive home afterwards, we said: ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ Tiger was that good; playing every shot, not having to hold back. “Tiger told me how he’d fixed it and how it was a mini-miracle, considering how bad it had been. He travelled to London to see the ultimate consultant on these things, who told him the only guy who could fix this was in Texas. Tiger went through the procedure and now he’s back.” Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were paired together for the final round at the Masters in 2015 Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Image Like everyone McIlroy looked on in admiration as Woods relaunched his career in the Bahamas. “This is a different Tiger. He could stun the world – again,” said McIlroy with a rueful grin, mindful of losing the world No 1 tag to him in 2013 when Woods won five tournaments. But McIlroy seems more impressed this time around. “When he came back in 2013, all he did was hit a big cut and was getting himself around with his chipping and putting,” McIlroy said. “And, yeah, that is incredible in itself. But he’s got everything again now. You can talk about Jordan [Spieth] and JT [Justin Thomas] and all of them not seeing Tiger in his pomp, but I tell you what, I’ve never really seen Tiger at that level. He could be the story of the year. I hope he isn’t, I hope I am. But then if Tiger wins just one then he will be the story anyway.”
Exclusive Rory McIlroy interview: 'It's a different Tiger - he can stun the world once again'
Rory McIlroy believes that Tiger Woods will “stun the world – again” this year after beginning his resurrection in London. McIlroy played with Woods in November and was amazed by the 14-time major winner’s display at the Bear’s Club, Jack Nicklaus’s Florida course near the players’ homes. At that stage, Woods had not played competitively since February when he pulled out of the Dubai Desert Classic. The 42-year-old then underwent a spinal fusion, a radical operation which led to predictions that his career was over. However, Woods returned at the Hero World Challenge two months ago, where he commendably finished in a tie for ninth in an 18-man field. McIlroy was not surprised by that, after what he had witnessed a few weeks beforehand when Woods had invited him for 18 holes. “I was on my way there worrying thinking, ‘what will I see?’, but it was incredible,” McIlroy told Telegraph Sport. “My dad [Gerry] also played with us and we both couldn’t believe it. I remember mouthing to Dad, ‘WTF?’. And on the drive home afterwards, we said: ‘Where the hell did that come from?’ Tiger was that good; playing every shot, not having to hold back. “Tiger told me how he’d fixed it and how it was a mini-miracle, considering how bad it had been. He travelled to London to see the ultimate consultant on these things, who told him the only guy who could fix this was in Texas. Tiger went through the procedure and now he’s back.” Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were paired together for the final round at the Masters in 2015 Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Image Like everyone McIlroy looked on in admiration as Woods relaunched his career in the Bahamas. “This is a different Tiger. He could stun the world – again,” said McIlroy with a rueful grin, mindful of losing the world No 1 tag to him in 2013 when Woods won five tournaments. But McIlroy seems more impressed this time around. “When he came back in 2013, all he did was hit a big cut and was getting himself around with his chipping and putting,” McIlroy said. “And, yeah, that is incredible in itself. But he’s got everything again now. You can talk about Jordan [Spieth] and JT [Justin Thomas] and all of them not seeing Tiger in his pomp, but I tell you what, I’ve never really seen Tiger at that level. He could be the story of the year. I hope he isn’t, I hope I am. But then if Tiger wins just one then he will be the story anyway.”
Tiger Woods will attempt to jump start his career again by playing the his first PGA tournament of note since April 2017.
How to watch Tiger Woods' return, at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open
Tiger Woods will attempt to jump start his career again by playing the his first PGA tournament of note since April 2017.
Lindsey Vonn is still rooting for ex Tiger Woods to get his career back on track
Lindsey Vonn is still rooting for ex Tiger Woods to get his career back on track
Lindsey Vonn is still rooting for ex Tiger Woods to get his career back on track
Lindsey Vonn sat down for an interview with Sports Illustrated recently and of course, the topic of her relationship with Tiger Woods came up.
Vonn rooting for 'very stubborn' Woods' comeback
Lindsey Vonn sat down for an interview with Sports Illustrated recently and of course, the topic of her relationship with Tiger Woods came up.
Tiger Woods could give Team Asia a slight advantage at this week’s EurAsia Cup.
Atwal 'picked Tiger's brain' before EurAsia Cup
Tiger Woods could give Team Asia a slight advantage at this week’s EurAsia Cup.
<p>Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.</p><p>She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”</p><p>Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.</p><p>Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.</p><p>Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: <em>Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!</em> At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”</p><p>It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)</p><p>And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Body</strong></h3><p>Vonn is 5&#39;10&quot; and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.</p><p>She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.</p><p>There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.</p><p>The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.</p><p>In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.</p><p>Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”</p><p>Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”</p><p>One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”</p><p>Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Olympics</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.</p><p>She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”</p><p>She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.</p><p>“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”</p><p>?</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Significant others</strong></h3><p>Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”</p><p>The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.</p><p>Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”</p><p>It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Social media</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”</p><p>In November, <em>Outside</em> magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. <em>Outside</em>’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).</p><p>Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.</p><p>That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:</p><p><strong>CNN: </strong>“You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”</p><p><strong>Vonn:</strong> “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”</p><p>Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”</p><p>She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Dad</strong></h3><p>Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.</p><p>Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”</p><p>Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”</p><p>Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.</p><p>There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”</p><p>Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.</p>
Battle Scars: Lindsey Vonn’s Many Wounds Have Prepared Her For A Final Golden Olympic Run

Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.

She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”

Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.

Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.

Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”

It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)

And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”

Scars: The Body

Vonn is 5'10" and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.

She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.

There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.

In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.

Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”

Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”

One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”

Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”

Scars: The Olympics

Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.

She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”

She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.

“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”

?

Scars: The Significant others

Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”

The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.

Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”

Scars: Social media

Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”

In November, Outside magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. Outside’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).

Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.

That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:

CNN: “You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”

Vonn: “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”

Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”

She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”

Scars: Dad

Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.

Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”

Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”

Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.

There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”

Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.

<p>Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.</p><p>She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”</p><p>Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.</p><p>Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.</p><p>Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: <em>Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!</em> At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”</p><p>It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)</p><p>And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Body</strong></h3><p>Vonn is 5&#39;10&quot; and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.</p><p>She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.</p><p>There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.</p><p>The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.</p><p>In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.</p><p>Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”</p><p>Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”</p><p>One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”</p><p>Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Olympics</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.</p><p>She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”</p><p>She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.</p><p>“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”</p><p>?</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Significant others</strong></h3><p>Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”</p><p>The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.</p><p>Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”</p><p>It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Social media</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”</p><p>In November, <em>Outside</em> magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. <em>Outside</em>’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).</p><p>Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.</p><p>That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:</p><p><strong>CNN: </strong>“You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”</p><p><strong>Vonn:</strong> “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”</p><p>Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”</p><p>She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Dad</strong></h3><p>Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.</p><p>Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”</p><p>Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”</p><p>Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.</p><p>There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”</p><p>Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.</p>
Battle Scars: Lindsey Vonn’s Many Wounds Have Prepared Her For A Final Golden Olympic Run

Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.

She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”

Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.

Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.

Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”

It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)

And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”

Scars: The Body

Vonn is 5'10" and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.

She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.

There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.

In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.

Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”

Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”

One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”

Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”

Scars: The Olympics

Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.

She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”

She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.

“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”

?

Scars: The Significant others

Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”

The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.

Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”

Scars: Social media

Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”

In November, Outside magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. Outside’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).

Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.

That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:

CNN: “You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”

Vonn: “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”

Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”

She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”

Scars: Dad

Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.

Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”

Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”

Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.

There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”

Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.

<p>Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.</p><p>She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”</p><p>Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.</p><p>Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.</p><p>Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: <em>Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!</em> At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”</p><p>It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)</p><p>And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Body</strong></h3><p>Vonn is 5&#39;10&quot; and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.</p><p>She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.</p><p>There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.</p><p>The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.</p><p>In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.</p><p>Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”</p><p>Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”</p><p>One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”</p><p>Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Olympics</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.</p><p>She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”</p><p>She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.</p><p>“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”</p><p>?</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Significant others</strong></h3><p>Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”</p><p>The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.</p><p>Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”</p><p>It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Social media</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”</p><p>In November, <em>Outside</em> magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. <em>Outside</em>’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).</p><p>Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.</p><p>That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:</p><p><strong>CNN: </strong>“You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”</p><p><strong>Vonn:</strong> “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”</p><p>Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”</p><p>She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Dad</strong></h3><p>Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.</p><p>Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”</p><p>Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”</p><p>Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.</p><p>There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”</p><p>Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.</p>
Battle Scars: Lindsey Vonn’s Many Wounds Have Prepared Her For A Final Golden Olympic Run

Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.

She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”

Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.

Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.

Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”

It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)

And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”

Scars: The Body

Vonn is 5'10" and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.

She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.

There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.

In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.

Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”

Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”

One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”

Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”

Scars: The Olympics

Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.

She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”

She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.

“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”

?

Scars: The Significant others

Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”

The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.

Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”

Scars: Social media

Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”

In November, Outside magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. Outside’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).

Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.

That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:

CNN: “You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”

Vonn: “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”

Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”

She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”

Scars: Dad

Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.

Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”

Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”

Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.

There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”

Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.

<p>Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.</p><p>She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”</p><p>Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.</p><p>Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.</p><p>Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: <em>Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!</em> At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”</p><p>It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)</p><p>And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Body</strong></h3><p>Vonn is 5&#39;10&quot; and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.</p><p>She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.</p><p>There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.</p><p>The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.</p><p>In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.</p><p>Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”</p><p>Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”</p><p>One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”</p><p>Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Olympics</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.</p><p>She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”</p><p>She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.</p><p>“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”</p><p>?</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Significant others</strong></h3><p>Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”</p><p>The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.</p><p>Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”</p><p>It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Social media</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”</p><p>In November, <em>Outside</em> magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. <em>Outside</em>’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).</p><p>Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.</p><p>That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:</p><p><strong>CNN: </strong>“You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”</p><p><strong>Vonn:</strong> “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”</p><p>Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”</p><p>She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Dad</strong></h3><p>Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.</p><p>Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”</p><p>Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”</p><p>Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.</p><p>There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”</p><p>Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.</p>
Battle Scars: Lindsey Vonn’s Many Wounds Have Prepared Her For A Final Golden Olympic Run

Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.

She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”

Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.

Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.

Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”

It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)

And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”

Scars: The Body

Vonn is 5'10" and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.

She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.

There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.

In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.

Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”

Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”

One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”

Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”

Scars: The Olympics

Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.

She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”

She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.

“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”

?

Scars: The Significant others

Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”

The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.

Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”

Scars: Social media

Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”

In November, Outside magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. Outside’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).

Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.

That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:

CNN: “You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”

Vonn: “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”

Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”

She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”

Scars: Dad

Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.

Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”

Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”

Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.

There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”

Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.

<p>Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.</p><p>She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”</p><p>Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.</p><p>Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.</p><p>Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: <em>Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!</em> At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”</p><p>It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)</p><p>And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Body</strong></h3><p>Vonn is 5&#39;10&quot; and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.</p><p>She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.</p><p>There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.</p><p>The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.</p><p>In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.</p><p>Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”</p><p>Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”</p><p>One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”</p><p>Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Olympics</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.</p><p>She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”</p><p>She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.</p><p>“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”</p><p>?</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Significant others</strong></h3><p>Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”</p><p>The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.</p><p>Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”</p><p>It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Social media</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”</p><p>In November, <em>Outside</em> magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. <em>Outside</em>’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).</p><p>Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.</p><p>That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:</p><p><strong>CNN: </strong>“You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”</p><p><strong>Vonn:</strong> “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”</p><p>Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”</p><p>She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Dad</strong></h3><p>Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.</p><p>Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”</p><p>Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”</p><p>Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.</p><p>There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”</p><p>Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.</p>
Battle Scars: Lindsey Vonn’s Many Wounds Have Prepared Her For A Final Golden Olympic Run

Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.

She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”

Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.

Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.

Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”

It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)

And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”

Scars: The Body

Vonn is 5'10" and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.

She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.

There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.

In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.

Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”

Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”

One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”

Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”

Scars: The Olympics

Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.

She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”

She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.

“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”

?

Scars: The Significant others

Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”

The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.

Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”

Scars: Social media

Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”

In November, Outside magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. Outside’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).

Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.

That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:

CNN: “You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”

Vonn: “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”

Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”

She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”

Scars: Dad

Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.

Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”

Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”

Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.

There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”

Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.

<p>Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.</p><p>She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”</p><p>Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.</p><p>Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.</p><p>Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: <em>Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!</em> At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”</p><p>It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)</p><p>And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Body</strong></h3><p>Vonn is 5&#39;10&quot; and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.</p><p>She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.</p><p>There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.</p><p>The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.</p><p>In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.</p><p>Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”</p><p>Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”</p><p>One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”</p><p>Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Olympics</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.</p><p>She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”</p><p>She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.</p><p>“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”</p><p>?</p><h3><strong>Scars: The Significant others</strong></h3><p>Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”</p><p>The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.</p><p>Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”</p><p>It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Social media</strong></h3><p>Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”</p><p>In November, <em>Outside</em> magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. <em>Outside</em>’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).</p><p>Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.</p><p>That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:</p><p><strong>CNN: </strong>“You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”</p><p><strong>Vonn:</strong> “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”</p><p>Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”</p><p>She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”</p><h3><strong>Scars: Dad</strong></h3><p>Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.</p><p>Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”</p><p>Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”</p><p>Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.</p><p>There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”</p><p>Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.</p>
Battle Scars: Lindsey Vonn’s Many Wounds Have Prepared Her For A Final Golden Olympic Run

Four daysbefore Christmas, Lindsey Vonn has agreed to tally up her many scars. The scars on her 33-year-old body. On her heart. Her soul. Her ego. Her job is racing down icy mountainsides at 80 mph; her life is often consumed by personal drama. Hence, she has no shortage of those scars, some more lasting and more meaningful than others; some barely noticeable, some still healing. But she also has an uncommon ability to move past any wound, which has made her the most successful U.S. ski racer in history. Because she retains the practical good cheer endemic to citizens of her native Minnesota, Vonn undertakes this listing exercise with zeal.

She starts at the top of her head, with a concussion, and works earthward, through her arm, back, knees, shin, with detours for her mind, body and spirit; and ends with her left ankle, which she broke in the summer of 2015. But then Vonn leans forward on the couch in the great room of her sprawling, four-year-old home on a hillside in Vail, Colo., her U.S. base for more than half her life. She is surrounded by her three dogs, including Bear, a burly rescue chow mix who insists that a visiting reporter continuously scratch his belly or be licked to death. Outside, the snow-starved landscape is depressingly brown. Vonn jumps forward. “Wait: frostbite,” she says, and then she unfurls a bare left foot that had been tucked underneath her thigh, and points. “I got frostbite on my toes when I was young.”

Vonn is proud of recalling this detail, and veers enthusiastically into a story about another accomplished skier from her state who missed an entire season with much more severe frostbite. “It’s a Minnesota thing,” she says, nodding. Ski racers are slaves to precision, from the settings on their equipment to the tiny dips and rolls on a downhill course. In this case, Vonn wants to show mastery of the compendium of injuries, heartbreaks, slights, embarrassments and missteps that have accompanied her 78 World Cup victories (more than any woman and second to only Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86) and two Olympic medals, including a gold in the 2010 downhill at Vancouver. The lists of scars and of victories are intertwined: There might have been more of the latter had there been less of the former, but the meaning of the triumphs has been enriched by the struggles.

Next month, Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Games will be Vonn’s fourth, despite missing the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, while recovering from knee surgery. She will be among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.

Vonn’s Olympic preparation, which accelerates in January with at least eight World Cup races, has been a microcosm of the most recent years of her career: intense training followed by moments of brilliance; a scary high-speed crash (while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December); three media controversies of varying intensities; and, on Dec. 16 at the French resort of Val d’Isère, first place in a World Cup Super G race, just her second win since early February 2016. At the bottom of the hill, Vonn grabbed the television camera with both hands and huffed: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! At home in Vail a few days later, she said, “I wasn’t doubting myself, but I needed to get things going.”

It was a moment that reminded the ski world that Vonn is still fast enough to win. (U.S. prodigy Mikaela Shiffrin knows this already. “Lindsey still has speed,” she said in an interview with SI. “Plenty of it.”)

And something else: Vonn will push from the start house in South Korea wearing not only skis, boots and a helmet, but also a back protector and a brace on her right knee. And every one of those scars. “I’m a tougher person today,” says Vonn. “I’m stronger.”

Scars: The Body

Vonn is 5'10" and weighs around 160 pounds. She has a powerful body that has been betrayed in ways ranging from horrific to comical. She suffered nine major injuries and had five surgeries from 2006 to ’16. Ski racing—especially in downhill and Super G—is wildly dangerous. Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.

She was diminished at the 2006 Olympics by a crash in downhill training, but, in her words, “escaped from the hospital” to compete in both speed races, finishing seventh in Super G and eighth in downhill (remarkable in her condition). Three years later, after winning the downhill at the world championships in Val d’Isère, she severed a tendon in her right thumb while attempting to spray celebratory champagne from a bottle with a razor sharp neck. (The cork had been removed by a ski.) There is still a lump on the inside of her thumb, which she cannot straighten.

There was the shin bruise that nearly kept her out of the 2010 Olympics and a year later, the concussion that left her fuzzy while winning silver at the worlds in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

The two worst injuries have come most recently. She blew out her right knee in a Super G crash at the 2013 worlds in Schladming, Austria, and damaged the same ACL in training for the Olympics at Copper Mountain in Colorado the following November. Vonn says she was told by doctors that the knee was stable, so she continued to race, and eventually she fully tore the ACL at a race in Val d’Isère, missing the 2014 Games. The lesson: It was time for Vonn to take tighter control of her training and racing. “There was a hole on the course at Copper that day in 2013, and nobody told me,” she says. “I’ve made it clear since then: If there is anything wrong with the hill, I’m stopping.” She had her knee redone by Dr. James Andrews in Florida.

In November 2016, Vonn fractured her right humerus during training, also at Copper Mountain. She was evacuated from the hill in a truck, 90 minutes on unpaved roads. “By far the most painful injury of my life,” she says. “There was no med-pack on the hill, so no pain meds.” The injury was repaired with 20 screws and one long plate, but for weeks Vonn had no feeling in her right hand. “Couldn’t brush my teeth, couldn’t do my hair, couldn’t hold a spoon,” she says. And, another lesson: Vonn now always knows evacuation plans at training locations.

Her age and injuries have compelled Vonn and her team—coaches Chris Knight and Alex Hoedlmoser, Red Bull trainer Alex Bunt and head ski technician Heinz Hämmerle—to make changes to her training and technique. The day after her December win in Val d’Isère, Vonn was scheduled to race another Super G; however, her right knee was sore, so she went home early for the holidays instead. “We try to limit the number of consecutive days on snow,” says Knight, 45, a New Zealander who has worked with the U.S. ski team for 15 years. “We track her days on snow and she tracks how she’s feeling every day. We’ve gotten smarter.”

Vonn has also implemented technical changes to accommodate a body with high mileage. The oldest Olympic Alpine medalist was Bode Miller, who was 36 when he took bronze in the Super G in Sochi; the oldest to win gold was Mario Matt of Austria, who was 34 when he won the slalom, also in Sochi. “Now she has more balance on the outside ski at the top of the turn, and better flex in her knees through the turn,” says Knight. “And you have to, when you get to this stage of her career.” Knight laughs, and adds, “She’s actually a better skier than when she was younger. It would be nice to have Lindsey’s 23-year-old body, skiing the way she does now.”

One other thing. “She’s still fearless,” says Knight. “With everything she’s come back from, it constantly amazes me that she has not backed off 1%.”

Says Vonn, “I have the same mental approach that I had when I was 18.”

Scars: The Olympics

Vonn’s status in the ski world is secure. Those 78 World Cup wins are 16 more than any other woman. (At 22, Shiffrin is on a scorching pace, with 40 wins, but this is another discussion, to be addressed in a moment). Vonn says she wants to go at least one more year after this year, so catching Stenmark is not out of the question. But U.S. athletes in Olympic sports are largely defined by their medal count at the Games, and Vonn has been outrageously unlucky there.

She was a multiple medal threat when she crashed in 2006. She got her two medals in Vancouver—her gold medal downhill there is the most memorable run of her life. “I was so in the zone,” she says. “I just sort of blacked out.”

She wanted to win another one in Sochi. When she suffered her knee injury in ’13, she had won the World Cup overall points title in four of the five previous seasons. After the 2014 Games, she came back from the injury to win 17 World Cup races over the next two years. The Olympics can be quirky, but it’s likely a healthy Vonn would have climbed a podium in Russia.

“There are no do-overs for the Olympics,” says Vonn. “I loved that track in Sochi. I will forever be incredibly sad to have missed that.”

?

Scars: The Significant others

Lindsey Vonn was Lindsey Kildow when she met U.S. Ski Team racer Thomas Vonn during summer training in Park City, Utah, in 2001; she was 16 and he was 25. They began dating the next year and were married in ’07. Thomas became his wife’s de facto coach and handler and leader of what came to be known as the Vonntourage. They split in 2011 and divorced in January ’13, shortly before Vonn’s crash in Schladming. “I probably shouldn’t have gotten married so young,” says Lindsey. “But I won’t say I regret it. I got older and things just changed.” Her family has encouraged her to change her name back to Kildow, but she has resisted. “People come to races to see Lindsey Vonn,” she says. “It’s my stage name. It’s who I am on the hill. Maybe I’ll change it back when I retire. Or if I get married again.”

The Vonn divorce was thunderous news in ski racing. But nothing compared to what followed. Vonn dated Tiger Woods for more than two years, with the relationship ending in May 2015. The celebrity couple was paparazzi catnip.

Vonn is asked if it was a good idea to date such a famous—and infamous—man. “I mean. . . I was in love,” she says. “I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way. I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

It was all very public. “It’s hard enough to break up with a boyfriend,” says Lindsey’s sister Karin, “without having to issue a press release about it.”

Scars: Social media

Vonn’s relationship with Woods piggybacked on his scandals and thrust her into the savage world of social media. “I had to learn to have thicker skin, right away,” says Vonn. In August of 2017, nude photos of Vonn, Woods and several other celebrities were leaked online. Woods and Vonn took legal action and the photos were pulled down, but not until they had been up for more than 24 hours. “I felt violated,” says Vonn. “I don’t think there’s anything more embarrassing in the world. Why would someone do that?”

In November, Outside magazine published a profile of Shiffrin. The piece was appropriately flattering—Shiffrin is a wunderkind by any measure— and noted that she was “on track to win more races and more championships than any skier ever,” which is absolutely true, though success in such a dangerous sport is not guaranteed. Outside’s editors went further in their cover tag: mikaela shiffrin is the greatest skier of all time. (discuss).

Vonn did discuss, posting a tweet with a screenshot of the Wikipedia page that lists her victories and records. Shiffrin, who is driven and confident but generally humble, replied: “@lindseyvonn Trust me girl, we all know you da #GOAT and my name isn’t even close to making that list yet #respect.” Then it was Vonn’s turn: “No worries girl, that tweet wasn’t intended for you. Happy that another strong woman is on the cover of a magazine and it’s great for skiing as well as you . . .” Vonn also deleted the original tweet, thus ending the non-feud. But the exchange shined some light on one point: Vonn has, and likely always will have, a chip on her shoulder.

That Twitter exchange was just a warmup. On Dec. 7, Vonn was interviewed by CNN:

CNN: “You’ve previously competed at three Olympic Games, under two presidents. How would it feel competing at an Olympic Games for a United States whose president is Donald Trump?”

Vonn: “Well, I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. . . . I take the Olympics very seriously, and what they mean and what they represent. What walking under our flag means at the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don’t think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”

Vonn was later asked if she would visit the White House with other Olympians and said, “Absolutely not. No.”

She took an online beating from Trump supporters and Trump-leaning media, and later wrote a long Instagram post in which she quoted Ronald Reagan. She did not apologize for her earlier comments. “People were calling me un-American or some crazy liberal, which I’m actually not,” says Vonn. “I was taken aback by the negativity. I love my country. I’m proud of the flag and our troops. Just because I disagree with some things doesn’t make me less American.”

Scars: Dad

Alan Kildow was a ski racer in his youth who introduced his daughter to the sport and guided her early career. When Lindsey married Thomas, her relationship with her father became strained. (Alan and Lindsey’s mother, Linda, divorced in 2003.) For nearly a decade, father and daughter rarely communicated; when Vonn won her gold in Vancouver, Alan, a lawyer, was sitting at his office in Minneapolis, watching on a computer screen.

Over the last few years the chill has thawed, and Alan has been attending her World Cup races. Alan’s father, Don, died on Nov. 1 at 88. Don was close with Lindsey and his death underscored for Alan and Lindsey the fragile nature of life and family. “He’s my father and I want to have a relationship with him,” says Lindsey. “I don’t want to have regrets later. This is the end phase of my career and he wasn’t around for a long time when I was at my peak. But he appreciates it more now. Everything comes back around.”

Alan, 65, now splits his time between offices in Minneapolis and Denver, to be near Lindsey, his eldest daughter (there are three). He will be in PyeongChang. “Do I regret the time we weren’t close?” Alan says. “Yes, I regret it. There’s a sadness and a hole there. It’s fun to be with her now. My job is to stand at the bottom of the hill and be a rock for her. I’m very good at that.”

Not always. When Vonn won in Val d’Isère, she found her father at the bottom, crying.

There is an urgency for Vonn. She will always ski, but not as she has for the last two decades, screeching down steep mountains, trying to shave hundredths of a second that can separate first from 10th. That is the feeling that moves her more than anything. “I love pushing myself to the limit,” she says. “I love going fast.”

Her home has many trophy cases, including two giant wooden shelves over her fireplace, where her World Cup globes are lined up like soldiers. Up the stairs, past her home gym, there’s a smaller, glass-enclosed trophy case in a hallway. She reaches inside and removes a tiny figure. “My first skiing trophy,” she says. The award is for a fifth-place finish at Afton Alps, a resort in Washington County, Minn., on Feb. 22, 1992, when she was seven. A small marble base supports a shiny gold skier. Her skis are together, her hands thrust forward in a racer’s tuck. She is free in the wind and cold.

The Tour Confidential team discusses Tiger's upcoming tournament schedule and whether or not he is taking the right steps for a strong 2018.
Tiger Woods' 2018 schedule discussed
The Tour Confidential team discusses Tiger's upcoming tournament schedule and whether or not he is taking the right steps for a strong 2018.
The Tour Confidential team talks about Dustin Johnson&#39;s chances of remaining world number one and Tiger Woods&#39; tournament schedule for 2018
Tour Confidential: DJ is number one, Tiger's 2018 schedule
The Tour Confidential team talks about Dustin Johnson's chances of remaining world number one and Tiger Woods' tournament schedule for 2018
The Tour Confidential team talks about Dustin Johnson&#39;s chances of remaining world number one and Tiger Woods&#39; tournament schedule for 2018
Tour Confidential: DJ is number one, Tiger's 2018 schedule
The Tour Confidential team talks about Dustin Johnson's chances of remaining world number one and Tiger Woods' tournament schedule for 2018
The Tour Confidential team talks about Dustin Johnson&#39;s chances of remaining world number one and Tiger Woods&#39; tournament schedule for 2018
Tour Confidential: DJ is number one, Tiger's 2018 schedule
The Tour Confidential team talks about Dustin Johnson's chances of remaining world number one and Tiger Woods' tournament schedule for 2018
The Tour Confidential team talks about Dustin Johnson's chances of remaining world number one and Tiger Woods' tournament schedule for 2018
Tour Confidential: DJ is number one, Tiger's 2018 schedule
The Tour Confidential team talks about Dustin Johnson's chances of remaining world number one and Tiger Woods' tournament schedule for 2018
The Tour Confidential team talks about Dustin Johnson's chances of remaining world number one and Tiger Woods' tournament schedule for 2018
Tour Confidential: DJ is number one, Tiger's 2018 schedule
The Tour Confidential team talks about Dustin Johnson's chances of remaining world number one and Tiger Woods' tournament schedule for 2018
Who needs fireworks to welcome the new year when Dustin Johnson has his own rockets? If golf was excited by what could lie in store for 2018 then the world No 1 only heightened the anticipation with his extraordinary 433-yard drive which came within a few inches of a hole-in-one on a par four. If his ball had consented to drop on the 12th in Kapalua, Johnson would have become just the player in PGA Tour history to make an ace on anything other than a par three (emulating Andrew Magee’s feat at the Phoenix Open in 2001). Not that Johnson was moaning after his eight-shot triumph in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. In typical nonchalant fashion, he remarked “I hit it a little thin”, before grinning and confessing, “I hit it perfectly”. Indeed, he was almost faultless in Hawaii all week, as he emphasised that he remains the man to beat this campaign. He has the power to bludgeon the best field to submission and this was proved at The Plantation Course where he put so much daylight between himself and Jon Rahm. The 24-year-old Spaniard celebrated becoming the fourth youngest player ever to enter the world’s top three (after Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth) but he would have looked at Johnson’s emphatic display and realised the summit remains far in the distance. Still can&#39;t decide what&#39;s harder to believe: The drive itself, or that it didn&#39;t go in. pic.twitter.com/nQExRTPhqZ— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 8, 2018 Much is said and written about the modern golf ball and its ruinous effect on the sport, with famous old courses being stretched beyond recognition and the game becoming ever more one-dimensional. But none of this should overshadow Johnson’s ridiculous talent in being able to launch it ridiculous distances. The point is that in generations gone by, Johnson’s strength would have afforded him an even greater advantage, just as it did for Jack Nicklaus and, at the start of his hegemony, Tiger Woods. Yet even as it stands in golf’s parity era, Johnson still manages to stand out. Consider that Johnson has recorded 24 drives of 400 yards or more on the PGA Tour and that the next best is Bubba Watson with 13 and then you will begin to understand the 33-year-old&#39;s freakish capability. For Johnson, however, it was merely a case of abnormal service being resumed. Certainly there was no sense of a personal crusade to banish the demons of the HSBC WGC Champions in November in China where he conceded a six-shot lead to Justin Rose in a calamitous final round. “Somebody asked me ‘have you thought about Shanghai?’,” he said. “And I&#39;m like, no, I really hadn’t until they asked me. It doesn&#39;t matter what I did there. It was two months ago on a different golf course, in a different part of the world. And golf is so funny, I mean, it really doesn&#39;t matter what you did yesterday. This game, it changes very, very easily. So, for me, it&#39;s just all about pushing forward.” Dustin Johnson looks like the man to beat this year Credit: Getty Images This is now the established Johnson mindset. He has suffered his setbacks before – most notably at the 2015 US Open when he three-putted from 10 feet to hand the trophy to Jordan Spieth – and he has always bounced back. The truth is, this uncomplicated character does not dwell on the disappointments and, next to his driving, in this maddening game his capacity to forget and simply shrug off the ghouls could be his biggest asset. When this was put to him, Johnson replied: &quot;I would imagine so. I don&#39;t know, I can&#39;t remember.” Whatever, the rest have been warned and they should not be fooled by his poor showing in last year’s majors. Johnson went into Augusta having won three times, but fell down the stairs on the eve of the Masters and took almost a year to recover fully. “When I landed I thought I broke my back,” Johnson said. Well, Kapalua and that incredible drive has given notice that his back has now returned to complete working order. Shot of the weekend If it had dropped it would have been the shot of the season. Johnson’s 433-yard drive on the 12th came within four inches of a hole in one on a par four. Quote of the weekend “I hit it probably 90 percent. I don&#39;t think I&#39;ve ever hit 100 percent.” Johnson reveals that he was not even at maximum for that 433-yarder Flop of the weekend For the second straight event Brooks Koepka finished last, this time 37 shots behind Johnson on 13-over. The US Open champion is being plagued by a injury to his left wrist that, as of now, remains undiagnosed. Worrying times for the young American.
Talk of Golf: Dustin Johnson kicks 2018 off in style as he comes within inches of stunning hole-in-one
Who needs fireworks to welcome the new year when Dustin Johnson has his own rockets? If golf was excited by what could lie in store for 2018 then the world No 1 only heightened the anticipation with his extraordinary 433-yard drive which came within a few inches of a hole-in-one on a par four. If his ball had consented to drop on the 12th in Kapalua, Johnson would have become just the player in PGA Tour history to make an ace on anything other than a par three (emulating Andrew Magee’s feat at the Phoenix Open in 2001). Not that Johnson was moaning after his eight-shot triumph in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. In typical nonchalant fashion, he remarked “I hit it a little thin”, before grinning and confessing, “I hit it perfectly”. Indeed, he was almost faultless in Hawaii all week, as he emphasised that he remains the man to beat this campaign. He has the power to bludgeon the best field to submission and this was proved at The Plantation Course where he put so much daylight between himself and Jon Rahm. The 24-year-old Spaniard celebrated becoming the fourth youngest player ever to enter the world’s top three (after Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth) but he would have looked at Johnson’s emphatic display and realised the summit remains far in the distance. Still can't decide what's harder to believe: The drive itself, or that it didn't go in. pic.twitter.com/nQExRTPhqZ— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 8, 2018 Much is said and written about the modern golf ball and its ruinous effect on the sport, with famous old courses being stretched beyond recognition and the game becoming ever more one-dimensional. But none of this should overshadow Johnson’s ridiculous talent in being able to launch it ridiculous distances. The point is that in generations gone by, Johnson’s strength would have afforded him an even greater advantage, just as it did for Jack Nicklaus and, at the start of his hegemony, Tiger Woods. Yet even as it stands in golf’s parity era, Johnson still manages to stand out. Consider that Johnson has recorded 24 drives of 400 yards or more on the PGA Tour and that the next best is Bubba Watson with 13 and then you will begin to understand the 33-year-old's freakish capability. For Johnson, however, it was merely a case of abnormal service being resumed. Certainly there was no sense of a personal crusade to banish the demons of the HSBC WGC Champions in November in China where he conceded a six-shot lead to Justin Rose in a calamitous final round. “Somebody asked me ‘have you thought about Shanghai?’,” he said. “And I'm like, no, I really hadn’t until they asked me. It doesn't matter what I did there. It was two months ago on a different golf course, in a different part of the world. And golf is so funny, I mean, it really doesn't matter what you did yesterday. This game, it changes very, very easily. So, for me, it's just all about pushing forward.” Dustin Johnson looks like the man to beat this year Credit: Getty Images This is now the established Johnson mindset. He has suffered his setbacks before – most notably at the 2015 US Open when he three-putted from 10 feet to hand the trophy to Jordan Spieth – and he has always bounced back. The truth is, this uncomplicated character does not dwell on the disappointments and, next to his driving, in this maddening game his capacity to forget and simply shrug off the ghouls could be his biggest asset. When this was put to him, Johnson replied: "I would imagine so. I don't know, I can't remember.” Whatever, the rest have been warned and they should not be fooled by his poor showing in last year’s majors. Johnson went into Augusta having won three times, but fell down the stairs on the eve of the Masters and took almost a year to recover fully. “When I landed I thought I broke my back,” Johnson said. Well, Kapalua and that incredible drive has given notice that his back has now returned to complete working order. Shot of the weekend If it had dropped it would have been the shot of the season. Johnson’s 433-yard drive on the 12th came within four inches of a hole in one on a par four. Quote of the weekend “I hit it probably 90 percent. I don't think I've ever hit 100 percent.” Johnson reveals that he was not even at maximum for that 433-yarder Flop of the weekend For the second straight event Brooks Koepka finished last, this time 37 shots behind Johnson on 13-over. The US Open champion is being plagued by a injury to his left wrist that, as of now, remains undiagnosed. Worrying times for the young American.
Who needs fireworks to welcome the new year when Dustin Johnson has his own rockets? If golf was excited by what could lie in store for 2018 then the world No 1 only heightened the anticipation with his extraordinary 433-yard drive which came within a few inches of a hole-in-one on a par four. If his ball had consented to drop on the 12th in Kapalua, Johnson would have become just the player in PGA Tour history to make an ace on anything other than a par three (emulating Andrew Magee’s feat at the Phoenix Open in 2001). Not that Johnson was moaning after his eight-shot triumph in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. In typical nonchalant fashion, he remarked “I hit it a little thin”, before grinning and confessing, “I hit it perfectly”. Indeed, he was almost faultless in Hawaii all week, as he emphasised that he remains the man to beat this campaign. He has the power to bludgeon the best field to submission and this was proved at The Plantation Course where he put so much daylight between himself and Jon Rahm. The 24-year-old Spaniard celebrated becoming the fourth youngest player ever to enter the world’s top three (after Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth) but he would have looked at Johnson’s emphatic display and realised the summit remains far in the distance. Still can&#39;t decide what&#39;s harder to believe: The drive itself, or that it didn&#39;t go in. pic.twitter.com/nQExRTPhqZ— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 8, 2018 Much is said and written about the modern golf ball and its ruinous effect on the sport, with famous old courses being stretched beyond recognition and the game becoming ever more one-dimensional. But none of this should overshadow Johnson’s ridiculous talent in being able to launch it ridiculous distances. The point is that in generations gone by, Johnson’s strength would have afforded him an even greater advantage, just as it did for Jack Nicklaus and, at the start of his hegemony, Tiger Woods. Yet even as it stands in golf’s parity era, Johnson still manages to stand out. Consider that Johnson has recorded 24 drives of 400 yards or more on the PGA Tour and that the next best is Bubba Watson with 13 and then you will begin to understand the 33-year-old&#39;s freakish capability. For Johnson, however, it was merely a case of abnormal service being resumed. Certainly there was no sense of a personal crusade to banish the demons of the HSBC WGC Champions in November in China where he conceded a six-shot lead to Justin Rose in a calamitous final round. “Somebody asked me ‘have you thought about Shanghai?’,” he said. “And I&#39;m like, no, I really hadn’t until they asked me. It doesn&#39;t matter what I did there. It was two months ago on a different golf course, in a different part of the world. And golf is so funny, I mean, it really doesn&#39;t matter what you did yesterday. This game, it changes very, very easily. So, for me, it&#39;s just all about pushing forward.” Dustin Johnson looks like the man to beat this year Credit: Getty Images This is now the established Johnson mindset. He has suffered his setbacks before – most notably at the 2015 US Open when he three-putted from 10 feet to hand the trophy to Jordan Spieth – and he has always bounced back. The truth is, this uncomplicated character does not dwell on the disappointments and, next to his driving, in this maddening game his capacity to forget and simply shrug off the ghouls could be his biggest asset. When this was put to him, Johnson replied: &quot;I would imagine so. I don&#39;t know, I can&#39;t remember.” Whatever, the rest have been warned and they should not be fooled by his poor showing in last year’s majors. Johnson went into Augusta having won three times, but fell down the stairs on the eve of the Masters and took almost a year to recover fully. “When I landed I thought I broke my back,” Johnson said. Well, Kapalua and that incredible drive has given notice that his back has now returned to complete working order. Shot of the weekend If it had dropped it would have been the shot of the season. Johnson’s 433-yard drive on the 12th came within four inches of a hole in one on a par four. Quote of the weekend “I hit it probably 90 percent. I don&#39;t think I&#39;ve ever hit 100 percent.” Johnson reveals that he was not even at maximum for that 433-yarder Flop of the weekend For the second straight event Brooks Koepka finished last, this time 37 shots behind Johnson on 13-over. The US Open champion is being plagued by a injury to his left wrist that, as of now, remains undiagnosed. Worrying times for the young American.
Talk of Golf: Dustin Johnson kicks 2018 off in style as he comes within inches of stunning hole-in-one
Who needs fireworks to welcome the new year when Dustin Johnson has his own rockets? If golf was excited by what could lie in store for 2018 then the world No 1 only heightened the anticipation with his extraordinary 433-yard drive which came within a few inches of a hole-in-one on a par four. If his ball had consented to drop on the 12th in Kapalua, Johnson would have become just the player in PGA Tour history to make an ace on anything other than a par three (emulating Andrew Magee’s feat at the Phoenix Open in 2001). Not that Johnson was moaning after his eight-shot triumph in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. In typical nonchalant fashion, he remarked “I hit it a little thin”, before grinning and confessing, “I hit it perfectly”. Indeed, he was almost faultless in Hawaii all week, as he emphasised that he remains the man to beat this campaign. He has the power to bludgeon the best field to submission and this was proved at The Plantation Course where he put so much daylight between himself and Jon Rahm. The 24-year-old Spaniard celebrated becoming the fourth youngest player ever to enter the world’s top three (after Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth) but he would have looked at Johnson’s emphatic display and realised the summit remains far in the distance. Still can't decide what's harder to believe: The drive itself, or that it didn't go in. pic.twitter.com/nQExRTPhqZ— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 8, 2018 Much is said and written about the modern golf ball and its ruinous effect on the sport, with famous old courses being stretched beyond recognition and the game becoming ever more one-dimensional. But none of this should overshadow Johnson’s ridiculous talent in being able to launch it ridiculous distances. The point is that in generations gone by, Johnson’s strength would have afforded him an even greater advantage, just as it did for Jack Nicklaus and, at the start of his hegemony, Tiger Woods. Yet even as it stands in golf’s parity era, Johnson still manages to stand out. Consider that Johnson has recorded 24 drives of 400 yards or more on the PGA Tour and that the next best is Bubba Watson with 13 and then you will begin to understand the 33-year-old's freakish capability. For Johnson, however, it was merely a case of abnormal service being resumed. Certainly there was no sense of a personal crusade to banish the demons of the HSBC WGC Champions in November in China where he conceded a six-shot lead to Justin Rose in a calamitous final round. “Somebody asked me ‘have you thought about Shanghai?’,” he said. “And I'm like, no, I really hadn’t until they asked me. It doesn't matter what I did there. It was two months ago on a different golf course, in a different part of the world. And golf is so funny, I mean, it really doesn't matter what you did yesterday. This game, it changes very, very easily. So, for me, it's just all about pushing forward.” Dustin Johnson looks like the man to beat this year Credit: Getty Images This is now the established Johnson mindset. He has suffered his setbacks before – most notably at the 2015 US Open when he three-putted from 10 feet to hand the trophy to Jordan Spieth – and he has always bounced back. The truth is, this uncomplicated character does not dwell on the disappointments and, next to his driving, in this maddening game his capacity to forget and simply shrug off the ghouls could be his biggest asset. When this was put to him, Johnson replied: "I would imagine so. I don't know, I can't remember.” Whatever, the rest have been warned and they should not be fooled by his poor showing in last year’s majors. Johnson went into Augusta having won three times, but fell down the stairs on the eve of the Masters and took almost a year to recover fully. “When I landed I thought I broke my back,” Johnson said. Well, Kapalua and that incredible drive has given notice that his back has now returned to complete working order. Shot of the weekend If it had dropped it would have been the shot of the season. Johnson’s 433-yard drive on the 12th came within four inches of a hole in one on a par four. Quote of the weekend “I hit it probably 90 percent. I don't think I've ever hit 100 percent.” Johnson reveals that he was not even at maximum for that 433-yarder Flop of the weekend For the second straight event Brooks Koepka finished last, this time 37 shots behind Johnson on 13-over. The US Open champion is being plagued by a injury to his left wrist that, as of now, remains undiagnosed. Worrying times for the young American.
Can Tiger Woods handle the rigors of Torrey? Can Justin Thomas keep rolling without Jimmy Johnson? And can anyone stop Dustin Johnson?
After Further Review: Can Tiger handle Torrey?
Can Tiger Woods handle the rigors of Torrey? Can Justin Thomas keep rolling without Jimmy Johnson? And can anyone stop Dustin Johnson?
Frank Nouble has heard them all. “More clubs than Tiger Woods”, “more clubs than Peter Stringfellow”… And although he rolls his eyes, he admits he cannot disclaim their validity. “Well, they’re true aren’t they?” he says. “I’m 26 and I’m at my 17th team. When people ask me, I’m not even too sure of the order.” Indeed, the Londoner has to pause before answering where he was before Newport County. “Ermm, Southend,” he says, before apologising. “I shouldn’t forget that. I made five appearances.&quot; Nouble has a ready wit, a sense of humour this journeyman of all journeymen has probably required in his quite remarkable odyssey from Chelsea to Gwent via Beijing. His bright disposition has its foundation in hope and the belief that he will finally reach his sporting destiny. On Sunday lunchtime, he will lead the line for Newport against Leeds United at Rodney Parade and as the FA Cup third round tie is being televised he expects his name to be widely recognised. “Loads of fans will think, ‘Frank Nouble’, didn’t he used to play for us?” he says. “They’ll all be correct as well.” Nouble will line up against Leeds on Sunday Credit: Rex Features Yet scratch this ultra-positive surface and there&#39;s despondency, not at the manner in which his career has worked out, because he” truly does feel lucky to still be earning a living from the game I love”, but for young English footballers in general. They are still being mistreated, he claims. “And those World Cups the Under-20s and under-17s have won won’t make any difference,” he declares. Nouble is not the worst judge of the system. At 13 the Lewisham boy signed forms for Chelsea and was soon appearing in the older age groups. “At 16 I was regularly training with the senior side - [Frank] Lampard, [John] Terry, [Claude] Makelele, {Nicolas] Anelka… all the names,” he recalls. “But I could see the way it was going. There were kids like me such as Scott Sinclair and Michael Mancienne and although they got the odd opportunity there was no real chance of breaking through. “In our age group we were playing 15 or 16 games a season and for the reserves every now and then. It’s the most frustrating thing. You train every day, you become &#39;a training player&#39;. A lot of players do that until they’re 21, 22, because they’re earning decent money. I wasn’t having that. At 17, Chelsea offered me a professional contract, but West Ham came in and I left straight away.” Nouble enjoyed his time at Upton Park. Initially. “It was a great first year. [Gianfranco] Zola was there and was a great man manager. There was a group of us, me, Junior Stanislas, Jack Collison… it was exciting, I remember playing in the FA Cup against Arsenal. It was my first start and when I went off in the 79th minute were 1-0 up. We lost 2-1. It was how that season was and soon Zola came under pressure and I was shipped out on a series of loans – seven, I think, in total. Nouble initially felt there was a chance for progression at West Ham under Gianfranco Zola, but then there was a change in management Credit: Cathal McNaughton “That’s what happens with &#39;promising&#39; youngsters, isn’t it? They drop down to where they’re supposed to ‘learn’ and prove their worth. But the reality is, you’ve been playing this type of style and then you are chucked into club with a different style and there’s absolutely no time to settle. It’s all on a winning basis now and you have to adapt immediately or else you’re out. And every time I came back to West Ham there was a new manager. Three in a year or something. The last for me was Big Sam [Allardyce] and we were in the Championship. I played a couple of games, but he told me I could go to Wolves, if I wanted.” Nouble recognizes the chance was there at Molineux, just as it was at Ipswich a few years later, particularly after a successful first season at Portman Road. For varying reasons it did not happen and after a loan became a contract and then another rejection at Coventry, he found himself released at the end of the 2014-15 season. It was here where his story took an almost surreal turn. “My phone rang and it was ‘how d&#39;you fancy China?’ It was before the real big money was being chucked around. My partner was pregnant and went home to have the baby but it was going ok [at Tianjin Quanjian]. I was scoring and popular. But then the usual thing happened - the management was changed, Fabio Cannavaro came in, started signing all these Brazilians and I was loaned to another club, who I never even got to play for. It was good, though, as I landed two days before my baby was born. “ Nouble in training with England Under-19s in 2010 Credit: Getty images Then, to Gillingham, then to Southend, now to Newport in League Two. Is this the one? “I hope so, because you could say it’s been a journey,’ he said. “I just want to put down a few roots at a club which has full confidence in my game. In my 10 seasons, I’ve only once had a full one [at Ipswich] and you can&#39;t expect to progress like that. It’s nice to have a bit of certainty off the field as well. We have another baby on the way and are renting a flat. “I’m still young enough, hungry enough and I do feel blessed. Some of my mates can’t be bothered to get up for training because things haven’t gone their way. People think they’re lazy, but the game can grind you down. I mean, it’s great seeing these young teams winning trophies, but nothing has changed, “You sign with a big club, and you think there’s a pathway and your parents are assured you’ll be looked after. But then, you’re’ 21 and after being on the loan cycle, you’re on your own. I don’t see that happening on the continent. As soon as they have a youngster who has made their debut they are going to do all they can to nurture him, protect him, develop him. “In Spain, there are foreigners but half the team always seems to be Spanish and they thrive, the national teams thrive. That should be the way it is here in England as there are loads of players who could have done that and could still do it. But there’s so much money in it now, so much pressure, I don’t see it altering any time soon. That’s ok, though. You just have to do it the hard way. In football, you can never give up.”
Frank Nouble: 'Chelsea, West Ham, Tianjin Quanjian... I've had 17 teams in 10 years. I want to put down roots at Newport'
Frank Nouble has heard them all. “More clubs than Tiger Woods”, “more clubs than Peter Stringfellow”… And although he rolls his eyes, he admits he cannot disclaim their validity. “Well, they’re true aren’t they?” he says. “I’m 26 and I’m at my 17th team. When people ask me, I’m not even too sure of the order.” Indeed, the Londoner has to pause before answering where he was before Newport County. “Ermm, Southend,” he says, before apologising. “I shouldn’t forget that. I made five appearances." Nouble has a ready wit, a sense of humour this journeyman of all journeymen has probably required in his quite remarkable odyssey from Chelsea to Gwent via Beijing. His bright disposition has its foundation in hope and the belief that he will finally reach his sporting destiny. On Sunday lunchtime, he will lead the line for Newport against Leeds United at Rodney Parade and as the FA Cup third round tie is being televised he expects his name to be widely recognised. “Loads of fans will think, ‘Frank Nouble’, didn’t he used to play for us?” he says. “They’ll all be correct as well.” Nouble will line up against Leeds on Sunday Credit: Rex Features Yet scratch this ultra-positive surface and there's despondency, not at the manner in which his career has worked out, because he” truly does feel lucky to still be earning a living from the game I love”, but for young English footballers in general. They are still being mistreated, he claims. “And those World Cups the Under-20s and under-17s have won won’t make any difference,” he declares. Nouble is not the worst judge of the system. At 13 the Lewisham boy signed forms for Chelsea and was soon appearing in the older age groups. “At 16 I was regularly training with the senior side - [Frank] Lampard, [John] Terry, [Claude] Makelele, {Nicolas] Anelka… all the names,” he recalls. “But I could see the way it was going. There were kids like me such as Scott Sinclair and Michael Mancienne and although they got the odd opportunity there was no real chance of breaking through. “In our age group we were playing 15 or 16 games a season and for the reserves every now and then. It’s the most frustrating thing. You train every day, you become 'a training player'. A lot of players do that until they’re 21, 22, because they’re earning decent money. I wasn’t having that. At 17, Chelsea offered me a professional contract, but West Ham came in and I left straight away.” Nouble enjoyed his time at Upton Park. Initially. “It was a great first year. [Gianfranco] Zola was there and was a great man manager. There was a group of us, me, Junior Stanislas, Jack Collison… it was exciting, I remember playing in the FA Cup against Arsenal. It was my first start and when I went off in the 79th minute were 1-0 up. We lost 2-1. It was how that season was and soon Zola came under pressure and I was shipped out on a series of loans – seven, I think, in total. Nouble initially felt there was a chance for progression at West Ham under Gianfranco Zola, but then there was a change in management Credit: Cathal McNaughton “That’s what happens with 'promising' youngsters, isn’t it? They drop down to where they’re supposed to ‘learn’ and prove their worth. But the reality is, you’ve been playing this type of style and then you are chucked into club with a different style and there’s absolutely no time to settle. It’s all on a winning basis now and you have to adapt immediately or else you’re out. And every time I came back to West Ham there was a new manager. Three in a year or something. The last for me was Big Sam [Allardyce] and we were in the Championship. I played a couple of games, but he told me I could go to Wolves, if I wanted.” Nouble recognizes the chance was there at Molineux, just as it was at Ipswich a few years later, particularly after a successful first season at Portman Road. For varying reasons it did not happen and after a loan became a contract and then another rejection at Coventry, he found himself released at the end of the 2014-15 season. It was here where his story took an almost surreal turn. “My phone rang and it was ‘how d'you fancy China?’ It was before the real big money was being chucked around. My partner was pregnant and went home to have the baby but it was going ok [at Tianjin Quanjian]. I was scoring and popular. But then the usual thing happened - the management was changed, Fabio Cannavaro came in, started signing all these Brazilians and I was loaned to another club, who I never even got to play for. It was good, though, as I landed two days before my baby was born. “ Nouble in training with England Under-19s in 2010 Credit: Getty images Then, to Gillingham, then to Southend, now to Newport in League Two. Is this the one? “I hope so, because you could say it’s been a journey,’ he said. “I just want to put down a few roots at a club which has full confidence in my game. In my 10 seasons, I’ve only once had a full one [at Ipswich] and you can't expect to progress like that. It’s nice to have a bit of certainty off the field as well. We have another baby on the way and are renting a flat. “I’m still young enough, hungry enough and I do feel blessed. Some of my mates can’t be bothered to get up for training because things haven’t gone their way. People think they’re lazy, but the game can grind you down. I mean, it’s great seeing these young teams winning trophies, but nothing has changed, “You sign with a big club, and you think there’s a pathway and your parents are assured you’ll be looked after. But then, you’re’ 21 and after being on the loan cycle, you’re on your own. I don’t see that happening on the continent. As soon as they have a youngster who has made their debut they are going to do all they can to nurture him, protect him, develop him. “In Spain, there are foreigners but half the team always seems to be Spanish and they thrive, the national teams thrive. That should be the way it is here in England as there are loads of players who could have done that and could still do it. But there’s so much money in it now, so much pressure, I don’t see it altering any time soon. That’s ok, though. You just have to do it the hard way. In football, you can never give up.”
Frank Nouble has heard them all. “More clubs than Tiger Woods”, “more clubs than Peter Stringfellow”… And although he rolls his eyes, he admits he cannot disclaim their validity. “Well, they’re true aren’t they?” he says. “I’m 26 and I’m at my 17th team. When people ask me, I’m not even too sure of the order.” Indeed, the Londoner has to pause before answering where he was before Newport County. “Ermm, Southend,” he says, before apologising. “I shouldn’t forget that. I made five appearances.&quot; Nouble has a ready wit, a sense of humour this journeyman of all journeymen has probably required in his quite remarkable odyssey from Chelsea to Gwent via Beijing. His bright disposition has its foundation in hope and the belief that he will finally reach his sporting destiny. On Sunday lunchtime, he will lead the line for Newport against Leeds United at Rodney Parade and as the FA Cup third round tie is being televised he expects his name to be widely recognised. “Loads of fans will think, ‘Frank Nouble’, didn’t he used to play for us?” he says. “They’ll all be correct as well.” Nouble will line up against Leeds on Sunday Credit: Rex Features Yet scratch this ultra-positive surface and there&#39;s despondency, not at the manner in which his career has worked out, because he” truly does feel lucky to still be earning a living from the game I love”, but for young English footballers in general. They are still being mistreated, he claims. “And those World Cups the Under-20s and under-17s have won won’t make any difference,” he declares. Nouble is not the worst judge of the system. At 13 the Lewisham boy signed forms for Chelsea and was soon appearing in the older age groups. “At 16 I was regularly training with the senior side - [Frank] Lampard, [John] Terry, [Claude] Makelele, {Nicolas] Anelka… all the names,” he recalls. “But I could see the way it was going. There were kids like me such as Scott Sinclair and Michael Mancienne and although they got the odd opportunity there was no real chance of breaking through. “In our age group we were playing 15 or 16 games a season and for the reserves every now and then. It’s the most frustrating thing. You train every day, you become &#39;a training player&#39;. A lot of players do that until they’re 21, 22, because they’re earning decent money. I wasn’t having that. At 17, Chelsea offered me a professional contract, but West Ham came in and I left straight away.” Nouble enjoyed his time at Upton Park. Initially. “It was a great first year. [Gianfranco] Zola was there and was a great man manager. There was a group of us, me, Junior Stanislas, Jack Collison… it was exciting, I remember playing in the FA Cup against Arsenal. It was my first start and when I went off in the 79th minute were 1-0 up. We lost 2-1. It was how that season was and soon Zola came under pressure and I was shipped out on a series of loans – seven, I think, in total. Nouble initially felt there was a chance for progression at West Ham under Gianfranco Zola, but then there was a change in management Credit: Cathal McNaughton “That’s what happens with &#39;promising&#39; youngsters, isn’t it? They drop down to where they’re supposed to ‘learn’ and prove their worth. But the reality is, you’ve been playing this type of style and then you are chucked into club with a different style and there’s absolutely no time to settle. It’s all on a winning basis now and you have to adapt immediately or else you’re out. And every time I came back to West Ham there was a new manager. Three in a year or something. The last for me was Big Sam [Allardyce] and we were in the Championship. I played a couple of games, but he told me I could go to Wolves, if I wanted.” Nouble recognizes the chance was there at Molineux, just as it was at Ipswich a few years later, particularly after a successful first season at Portman Road. For varying reasons it did not happen and after a loan became a contract and then another rejection at Coventry, he found himself released at the end of the 2014-15 season. It was here where his story took an almost surreal turn. “My phone rang and it was ‘how d&#39;you fancy China?’ It was before the real big money was being chucked around. My partner was pregnant and went home to have the baby but it was going ok [at Tianjin Quanjian]. I was scoring and popular. But then the usual thing happened - the management was changed, Fabio Cannavaro came in, started signing all these Brazilians and I was loaned to another club, who I never even got to play for. It was good, though, as I landed two days before my baby was born. “ Nouble in training with England Under-19s in 2010 Credit: Getty images Then, to Gillingham, then to Southend, now to Newport in League Two. Is this the one? “I hope so, because you could say it’s been a journey,’ he said. “I just want to put down a few roots at a club which has full confidence in my game. In my 10 seasons, I’ve only once had a full one [at Ipswich] and you can&#39;t expect to progress like that. It’s nice to have a bit of certainty off the field as well. We have another baby on the way and are renting a flat. “I’m still young enough, hungry enough and I do feel blessed. Some of my mates can’t be bothered to get up for training because things haven’t gone their way. People think they’re lazy, but the game can grind you down. I mean, it’s great seeing these young teams winning trophies, but nothing has changed, “You sign with a big club, and you think there’s a pathway and your parents are assured you’ll be looked after. But then, you’re’ 21 and after being on the loan cycle, you’re on your own. I don’t see that happening on the continent. As soon as they have a youngster who has made their debut they are going to do all they can to nurture him, protect him, develop him. “In Spain, there are foreigners but half the team always seems to be Spanish and they thrive, the national teams thrive. That should be the way it is here in England as there are loads of players who could have done that and could still do it. But there’s so much money in it now, so much pressure, I don’t see it altering any time soon. That’s ok, though. You just have to do it the hard way. In football, you can never give up.”
Frank Nouble: 'Chelsea, West Ham, Tianjin Quanjian... I've had 17 teams in 10 years. I want to put down roots at Newport'
Frank Nouble has heard them all. “More clubs than Tiger Woods”, “more clubs than Peter Stringfellow”… And although he rolls his eyes, he admits he cannot disclaim their validity. “Well, they’re true aren’t they?” he says. “I’m 26 and I’m at my 17th team. When people ask me, I’m not even too sure of the order.” Indeed, the Londoner has to pause before answering where he was before Newport County. “Ermm, Southend,” he says, before apologising. “I shouldn’t forget that. I made five appearances." Nouble has a ready wit, a sense of humour this journeyman of all journeymen has probably required in his quite remarkable odyssey from Chelsea to Gwent via Beijing. His bright disposition has its foundation in hope and the belief that he will finally reach his sporting destiny. On Sunday lunchtime, he will lead the line for Newport against Leeds United at Rodney Parade and as the FA Cup third round tie is being televised he expects his name to be widely recognised. “Loads of fans will think, ‘Frank Nouble’, didn’t he used to play for us?” he says. “They’ll all be correct as well.” Nouble will line up against Leeds on Sunday Credit: Rex Features Yet scratch this ultra-positive surface and there's despondency, not at the manner in which his career has worked out, because he” truly does feel lucky to still be earning a living from the game I love”, but for young English footballers in general. They are still being mistreated, he claims. “And those World Cups the Under-20s and under-17s have won won’t make any difference,” he declares. Nouble is not the worst judge of the system. At 13 the Lewisham boy signed forms for Chelsea and was soon appearing in the older age groups. “At 16 I was regularly training with the senior side - [Frank] Lampard, [John] Terry, [Claude] Makelele, {Nicolas] Anelka… all the names,” he recalls. “But I could see the way it was going. There were kids like me such as Scott Sinclair and Michael Mancienne and although they got the odd opportunity there was no real chance of breaking through. “In our age group we were playing 15 or 16 games a season and for the reserves every now and then. It’s the most frustrating thing. You train every day, you become 'a training player'. A lot of players do that until they’re 21, 22, because they’re earning decent money. I wasn’t having that. At 17, Chelsea offered me a professional contract, but West Ham came in and I left straight away.” Nouble enjoyed his time at Upton Park. Initially. “It was a great first year. [Gianfranco] Zola was there and was a great man manager. There was a group of us, me, Junior Stanislas, Jack Collison… it was exciting, I remember playing in the FA Cup against Arsenal. It was my first start and when I went off in the 79th minute were 1-0 up. We lost 2-1. It was how that season was and soon Zola came under pressure and I was shipped out on a series of loans – seven, I think, in total. Nouble initially felt there was a chance for progression at West Ham under Gianfranco Zola, but then there was a change in management Credit: Cathal McNaughton “That’s what happens with 'promising' youngsters, isn’t it? They drop down to where they’re supposed to ‘learn’ and prove their worth. But the reality is, you’ve been playing this type of style and then you are chucked into club with a different style and there’s absolutely no time to settle. It’s all on a winning basis now and you have to adapt immediately or else you’re out. And every time I came back to West Ham there was a new manager. Three in a year or something. The last for me was Big Sam [Allardyce] and we were in the Championship. I played a couple of games, but he told me I could go to Wolves, if I wanted.” Nouble recognizes the chance was there at Molineux, just as it was at Ipswich a few years later, particularly after a successful first season at Portman Road. For varying reasons it did not happen and after a loan became a contract and then another rejection at Coventry, he found himself released at the end of the 2014-15 season. It was here where his story took an almost surreal turn. “My phone rang and it was ‘how d'you fancy China?’ It was before the real big money was being chucked around. My partner was pregnant and went home to have the baby but it was going ok [at Tianjin Quanjian]. I was scoring and popular. But then the usual thing happened - the management was changed, Fabio Cannavaro came in, started signing all these Brazilians and I was loaned to another club, who I never even got to play for. It was good, though, as I landed two days before my baby was born. “ Nouble in training with England Under-19s in 2010 Credit: Getty images Then, to Gillingham, then to Southend, now to Newport in League Two. Is this the one? “I hope so, because you could say it’s been a journey,’ he said. “I just want to put down a few roots at a club which has full confidence in my game. In my 10 seasons, I’ve only once had a full one [at Ipswich] and you can't expect to progress like that. It’s nice to have a bit of certainty off the field as well. We have another baby on the way and are renting a flat. “I’m still young enough, hungry enough and I do feel blessed. Some of my mates can’t be bothered to get up for training because things haven’t gone their way. People think they’re lazy, but the game can grind you down. I mean, it’s great seeing these young teams winning trophies, but nothing has changed, “You sign with a big club, and you think there’s a pathway and your parents are assured you’ll be looked after. But then, you’re’ 21 and after being on the loan cycle, you’re on your own. I don’t see that happening on the continent. As soon as they have a youngster who has made their debut they are going to do all they can to nurture him, protect him, develop him. “In Spain, there are foreigners but half the team always seems to be Spanish and they thrive, the national teams thrive. That should be the way it is here in England as there are loads of players who could have done that and could still do it. But there’s so much money in it now, so much pressure, I don’t see it altering any time soon. That’s ok, though. You just have to do it the hard way. In football, you can never give up.”
Frank Nouble has heard them all. “More clubs than Tiger Woods”, “more clubs than Peter Stringfellow”… And although he rolls his eyes, he admits he cannot disclaim their validity. “Well, they’re true aren’t they?” he says. “I’m 26 and I’m at my 17th team. When people ask me, I’m not even too sure of the order.” Indeed, the Londoner has to pause before answering where he was before Newport County. “Ermm, Southend,” he says, before apologising. “I shouldn’t forget that. I made five appearances.&quot; Nouble has a ready wit, a sense of humour this journeyman of all journeymen has probably required in his quite remarkable odyssey from Chelsea to Gwent via Beijing. His bright disposition has its foundation in hope and the belief that he will finally reach his sporting destiny. On Sunday lunchtime, he will lead the line for Newport against Leeds United at Rodney Parade and as the FA Cup third round tie is being televised he expects his name to be widely recognised. “Loads of fans will think, ‘Frank Nouble’, didn’t he used to play for us?” he says. “They’ll all be correct as well.” Nouble will line up against Leeds on Sunday Credit: Rex Features Yet scratch this ultra-positive surface and there&#39;s despondency, not at the manner in which his career has worked out, because he” truly does feel lucky to still be earning a living from the game I love”, but for young English footballers in general. They are still being mistreated, he claims. “And those World Cups the Under-20s and under-17s have won won’t make any difference,” he declares. Nouble is not the worst judge of the system. At 13 the Lewisham boy signed forms for Chelsea and was soon appearing in the older age groups. “At 16 I was regularly training with the senior side - [Frank] Lampard, [John] Terry, [Claude] Makelele, {Nicolas] Anelka… all the names,” he recalls. “But I could see the way it was going. There were kids like me such as Scott Sinclair and Michael Mancienne and although they got the odd opportunity there was no real chance of breaking through. “In our age group we were playing 15 or 16 games a season and for the reserves every now and then. It’s the most frustrating thing. You train every day, you become &#39;a training player&#39;. A lot of players do that until they’re 21, 22, because they’re earning decent money. I wasn’t having that. At 17, Chelsea offered me a professional contract, but West Ham came in and I left straight away.” Nouble enjoyed his time at Upton Park. Initially. “It was a great first year. [Gianfranco] Zola was there and was a great man manager. There was a group of us, me, Junior Stanislas, Jack Collison… it was exciting, I remember playing in the FA Cup against Arsenal. It was my first start and when I went off in the 79th minute were 1-0 up. We lost 2-1. It was how that season was and soon Zola came under pressure and I was shipped out on a series of loans – seven, I think, in total. Nouble initially felt there was a chance for progression at West Ham under Gianfranco Zola, but then there was a change in management Credit: Cathal McNaughton “That’s what happens with &#39;promising&#39; youngsters, isn’t it? They drop down to where they’re supposed to ‘learn’ and prove their worth. But the reality is, you’ve been playing this type of style and then you are chucked into club with a different style and there’s absolutely no time to settle. It’s all on a winning basis now and you have to adapt immediately or else you’re out. And every time I came back to West Ham there was a new manager. Three in a year or something. The last for me was Big Sam [Allardyce] and we were in the Championship. I played a couple of games, but he told me I could go to Wolves, if I wanted.” Nouble recognizes the chance was there at Molineux, just as it was at Ipswich a few years later, particularly after a successful first season at Portman Road. For varying reasons it did not happen and after a loan became a contract and then another rejection at Coventry, he found himself released at the end of the 2014-15 season. It was here where his story took an almost surreal turn. “My phone rang and it was ‘how d&#39;you fancy China?’ It was before the real big money was being chucked around. My partner was pregnant and went home to have the baby but it was going ok [at Tianjin Quanjian]. I was scoring and popular. But then the usual thing happened - the management was changed, Fabio Cannavaro came in, started signing all these Brazilians and I was loaned to another club, who I never even got to play for. It was good, though, as I landed two days before my baby was born. “ Nouble in training with England Under-19s in 2010 Credit: Getty images Then, to Gillingham, then to Southend, now to Newport in League Two. Is this the one? “I hope so, because you could say it’s been a journey,’ he said. “I just want to put down a few roots at a club which has full confidence in my game. In my 10 seasons, I’ve only once had a full one [at Ipswich] and you can&#39;t expect to progress like that. It’s nice to have a bit of certainty off the field as well. We have another baby on the way and are renting a flat. “I’m still young enough, hungry enough and I do feel blessed. Some of my mates can’t be bothered to get up for training because things haven’t gone their way. People think they’re lazy, but the game can grind you down. I mean, it’s great seeing these young teams winning trophies, but nothing has changed, “You sign with a big club, and you think there’s a pathway and your parents are assured you’ll be looked after. But then, you’re’ 21 and after being on the loan cycle, you’re on your own. I don’t see that happening on the continent. As soon as they have a youngster who has made their debut they are going to do all they can to nurture him, protect him, develop him. “In Spain, there are foreigners but half the team always seems to be Spanish and they thrive, the national teams thrive. That should be the way it is here in England as there are loads of players who could have done that and could still do it. But there’s so much money in it now, so much pressure, I don’t see it altering any time soon. That’s ok, though. You just have to do it the hard way. In football, you can never give up.”
Frank Nouble: 'Chelsea, West Ham, Tianjin Quanjian... I've had 17 teams in 10 years. I want to put down roots at Newport'
Frank Nouble has heard them all. “More clubs than Tiger Woods”, “more clubs than Peter Stringfellow”… And although he rolls his eyes, he admits he cannot disclaim their validity. “Well, they’re true aren’t they?” he says. “I’m 26 and I’m at my 17th team. When people ask me, I’m not even too sure of the order.” Indeed, the Londoner has to pause before answering where he was before Newport County. “Ermm, Southend,” he says, before apologising. “I shouldn’t forget that. I made five appearances." Nouble has a ready wit, a sense of humour this journeyman of all journeymen has probably required in his quite remarkable odyssey from Chelsea to Gwent via Beijing. His bright disposition has its foundation in hope and the belief that he will finally reach his sporting destiny. On Sunday lunchtime, he will lead the line for Newport against Leeds United at Rodney Parade and as the FA Cup third round tie is being televised he expects his name to be widely recognised. “Loads of fans will think, ‘Frank Nouble’, didn’t he used to play for us?” he says. “They’ll all be correct as well.” Nouble will line up against Leeds on Sunday Credit: Rex Features Yet scratch this ultra-positive surface and there's despondency, not at the manner in which his career has worked out, because he” truly does feel lucky to still be earning a living from the game I love”, but for young English footballers in general. They are still being mistreated, he claims. “And those World Cups the Under-20s and under-17s have won won’t make any difference,” he declares. Nouble is not the worst judge of the system. At 13 the Lewisham boy signed forms for Chelsea and was soon appearing in the older age groups. “At 16 I was regularly training with the senior side - [Frank] Lampard, [John] Terry, [Claude] Makelele, {Nicolas] Anelka… all the names,” he recalls. “But I could see the way it was going. There were kids like me such as Scott Sinclair and Michael Mancienne and although they got the odd opportunity there was no real chance of breaking through. “In our age group we were playing 15 or 16 games a season and for the reserves every now and then. It’s the most frustrating thing. You train every day, you become 'a training player'. A lot of players do that until they’re 21, 22, because they’re earning decent money. I wasn’t having that. At 17, Chelsea offered me a professional contract, but West Ham came in and I left straight away.” Nouble enjoyed his time at Upton Park. Initially. “It was a great first year. [Gianfranco] Zola was there and was a great man manager. There was a group of us, me, Junior Stanislas, Jack Collison… it was exciting, I remember playing in the FA Cup against Arsenal. It was my first start and when I went off in the 79th minute were 1-0 up. We lost 2-1. It was how that season was and soon Zola came under pressure and I was shipped out on a series of loans – seven, I think, in total. Nouble initially felt there was a chance for progression at West Ham under Gianfranco Zola, but then there was a change in management Credit: Cathal McNaughton “That’s what happens with 'promising' youngsters, isn’t it? They drop down to where they’re supposed to ‘learn’ and prove their worth. But the reality is, you’ve been playing this type of style and then you are chucked into club with a different style and there’s absolutely no time to settle. It’s all on a winning basis now and you have to adapt immediately or else you’re out. And every time I came back to West Ham there was a new manager. Three in a year or something. The last for me was Big Sam [Allardyce] and we were in the Championship. I played a couple of games, but he told me I could go to Wolves, if I wanted.” Nouble recognizes the chance was there at Molineux, just as it was at Ipswich a few years later, particularly after a successful first season at Portman Road. For varying reasons it did not happen and after a loan became a contract and then another rejection at Coventry, he found himself released at the end of the 2014-15 season. It was here where his story took an almost surreal turn. “My phone rang and it was ‘how d'you fancy China?’ It was before the real big money was being chucked around. My partner was pregnant and went home to have the baby but it was going ok [at Tianjin Quanjian]. I was scoring and popular. But then the usual thing happened - the management was changed, Fabio Cannavaro came in, started signing all these Brazilians and I was loaned to another club, who I never even got to play for. It was good, though, as I landed two days before my baby was born. “ Nouble in training with England Under-19s in 2010 Credit: Getty images Then, to Gillingham, then to Southend, now to Newport in League Two. Is this the one? “I hope so, because you could say it’s been a journey,’ he said. “I just want to put down a few roots at a club which has full confidence in my game. In my 10 seasons, I’ve only once had a full one [at Ipswich] and you can't expect to progress like that. It’s nice to have a bit of certainty off the field as well. We have another baby on the way and are renting a flat. “I’m still young enough, hungry enough and I do feel blessed. Some of my mates can’t be bothered to get up for training because things haven’t gone their way. People think they’re lazy, but the game can grind you down. I mean, it’s great seeing these young teams winning trophies, but nothing has changed, “You sign with a big club, and you think there’s a pathway and your parents are assured you’ll be looked after. But then, you’re’ 21 and after being on the loan cycle, you’re on your own. I don’t see that happening on the continent. As soon as they have a youngster who has made their debut they are going to do all they can to nurture him, protect him, develop him. “In Spain, there are foreigners but half the team always seems to be Spanish and they thrive, the national teams thrive. That should be the way it is here in England as there are loads of players who could have done that and could still do it. But there’s so much money in it now, so much pressure, I don’t see it altering any time soon. That’s ok, though. You just have to do it the hard way. In football, you can never give up.”

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